Stop the GR Bullies on What Constitutes BullyingPosted: August 7, 2012 | |
Before we go into Stop the GR Bullies’ version of what bullying is, let’s look at the actual definition, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, shall we?
noun (plural bullies) a person who uses strength or influence to harm or intimidate those who are weaker.
verb (bullies, bullying, bullied) [with object] use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force them to do something.
Pop quiz time! Who has more strength or influence?
a) An author, who is a public figure, a professional (i.e. gets paid – although they should also act in a professional manner), and often has other professionals (agents, editors, publicists. publishers etc) to support them.
b) A reader, who is a private citizen and/or an amateur reviewer (i.e. unpaid – and under no obligation, therefore, to act professionally BTW), posting reviews and opinions on personal blogs and/or social networking sites.
If you answered a) then congratulations, you are right! If you answered b) then you probably live in a fantasy land. I hope it’s nice there.
I’m not saying it would be impossible for a reader/reviewer to bully an author, but it is extremely unlikely – and very, very rare. In fact I can’t think of one incident in recent, or even distant, memory that would constitute a reader actually bullying an author. It’s certainly not a widespread issue as the person(s) behind Stop the GR Bullies would have everyone believe.
Also, while it’s not in the definition above, all official and reputable sources on bullying highlight how bullying involves repeat offenses. It’s not a one-off thing. It’s systematic, ongoing harassment.
When isn’t it bullying?
Bullying isn’t a one-off incident – a friend being in a bad mood one day, calling you names and then apologising later. It’s when name-calling or threats continue that it becomes bullying.
Let’s just keep that in our pockets for later. In the meantime, let’s look at how Stop the GR Bullies defines bullying:
The definition: Verb. Subject to aggressive pressure or intimidation. Make repeated small-scale attacks on (an enemy).
It is bullying? Yes. Notice how the characteristics of intimidation and repetition match up with what defines bullying. STGRB has this one right (though whether anyone they accuse is actually guilty of it is another story, for another post).
The definition: Adjective. Causing someone to feel ashamed and foolish by injuring their dignity and self-respect.
It is bullying? In most cases, yes, because to injure someone’s dignity or self-respect generally requires being in a position of strength or authority over them.
The definition: Verb. Speak to or treat with disrespect or scornful abuse.
It is bullying? Not necessarily. Insults can be bullying, but only if they are repeated on a regular basis. Insulting somebody one time does not constitute bullying – which STGRB do not make clear (as usual).
The definition: Verb. Engage in gossip.
Is it bullying? No. It can be, in very specific circumstances, but gossip in general is not bullying.
5. Name calling
The definition: There isn’t an official definition for name-calling, because it’s an example of “insulting”.
Is it bullying? See comments for “insulting”.
6. Teaming up on
The definition: This doesn’t even make sense. To “team up” means to form a team. So if we’re being literal, “teaming up on” means “forming a team on”, which sounds like something you do in debating. Like, “I formed a team on the cons of carbon tax.” It still doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Of course, we can infer that what STGRB actually means is that bullying behaviour involves teaming up against someone.
Is it bullying? As it’s stated, no. But if we take it to mean teaming up against someone, then it could be considered bullying.
7. Verbally attacking
The definition: Ugh. Did the person who created this list just use a thesaurus in hopes of padding it out? Verbally attacking is the exact same thing as “insulting”.
Is it bullying? See comments for “insulting”. Again.
8. Sending friends after
The definition: This is so vague it doesn’t make sense either. Sending friends after… squirrels? Your crush? A runaway kite? Ha, this is actually kinda fun. OK, OK, once again we can infer (though we really shouldn’t have to, it kinda defeats the purpose of a list like this) that they mean sending friends after a victim. Which is the same as “teaming up on” [sic].
Is it bullying? In a very specific set of circumstances, it may be. But not as it’s been (barely) described here.
9. Writing a bully review
The definition: So this is not, like, a Thing. But if we use the official definition of “bully” (and not one that the peeps at Stop the GR Bullies have arbitrarily invented), then a bully review is… well, impossible. Because a bully is a person. But if, again, we use our powers of deduction (they’re really getting a workout here), we can determine that STGRB actually means a bullying review. Which would be a review that uses “superior strength or influence to intimidate”.
Is it bullying? Well, yes, of course a bullying review is bullying. But as mentioned above, in what world (other than the STGRB fantasy land) do amateur (a.k.a. hobby) reviewers have superior strength or influence to an author? Not on Goodreads, that’s for sure.
10. Spreading false rumours
The definition: Tautology alert! Ignoring the useless “false”, a rumour is defined as “a currently circulating story or report of uncertain or doubtful truth.”
Is it bullying? It could be, in a few specific contexts – like the schoolyard – but in general, not so much.
11. Attempting to destroy reputations with lies
The definition: Otherwise known as libel (if written) or slander (if spoken). I don’t know why they haven’t just called a spade a spade. Oh wait, yeah I do – it’s because they don’t know what either term actually means.
Is it bullying? Eh. Kinda, but kinda not. I guess it could be considered bullying, though really it’s a whole separate issue.
12. Trashing an author’s book just to get revenge
The definition: I got nothing. This is paradoxically so vague and yet weirdly specific. Revenge for what? Writing a horrible book? Or is it a more personal matter? Like, maybe the author stole the reviewer’s spouse or gave him or her a wedgie one time… or something. Seriously, though, revenge is defined as “the action of inflicting hurt or harm on someone for a wrong suffered at their hands.” Yep, we’re talking about reviews here, people.
Is it bullying? This is another one that I doubt is even possible. If it is, I’d like to see how, coz it sounds better than the storyline of The Bold and the Beautiful last week.
So, what can we deduce (here we go again!) from all this? For so-called anti-bullying campaigners, Stop the GR Bullies does not have the strongest grasp on what bullying actually is. Colour me surprised.